Number of page: 268
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2011
Scientology is one of the wealthiest and most powerful new religions to emerge in the past century. To its detractors, L. Ron Hubbard’s space-age mysticism is a moneymaking scam and sinister brainwashing cult. But to its adherents, it is humanity’s brightest hope. Few religious movements have been subject to public scrutiny like Scientology, yet much of what is written about the church is sensationalist and inaccurate. Here for the first time is the story of Scientology’s protracted and turbulent journey to recognition as a religion in the postwar American landscape.
Hugh Urban tells the real story of Scientology from its cold war-era beginnings in the 1950s to its prominence today as the religion of Hollywood’s celebrity elite. Urban paints a vivid portrait of Hubbard, the enigmatic founder who once commanded his own private fleet and an intelligence apparatus rivaling that of the U.S. government. One FBI agent described him as “a mental case,” but to his followers he is the man who “solved the riddle of the human mind.” Urban details Scientology’s decades-long war with the IRS, which ended with the church winning tax-exempt status as a religion; the rancorous cult wars of the 1970s and 1980s; as well as the latest challenges confronting Scientology, from attacks by the Internet group Anonymous to the church’s efforts to suppress the online dissemination of its esoteric teachings.
The Church of Scientology demonstrates how Scientology has reflected the broader anxieties and obsessions of postwar America, and raises profound questions about how religion is defined and who gets to define it.
3ShqFYSOG9wCThe Church of Scientology
Songs of Ecstasy: Tantric and Devotional Songs from Colonial Bengal
This book offers the first English translation of a body of highly esoteric mystical poetry and songs associated with the Khartabhajas a Bengali sect devoted to Tantrism The period from the late 18th to the early 19th century during which these lyrics were written was an era of change experimentation and transition from the older medieval styles to the new literary forms of modern Bengal The highly original songs presented here are an important part of this transitional period reflecting the search for new literary forms and experimentation in new poetic styles
Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism
Sexuality and the occult arts have long been associated in the western imagination but it was not until the nineteenth century that a large and sophisticated body of literature on sexual magic the use of sex as a source of magical power emerged This book the first history of western sexual magic as a modern spiritual tradition places these practices in the context of the larger discourse surrounding sexuality in American and European society over the last 150 years to discover how sexual magic was transformed from a terrifying medieval nightmare of heresy and social subversion into a modern ideal of personal empowerment and social liberation Focusing on a series of key figures including American spiritualist Paschal Beverly Randolph Aleister Crowley Julius Evola Gerald Gardner and Anton LaVey Hugh Urban traces the emergence of sexual magic out of older western esoteric traditions including Gnosticism and Kabbalah which were progressively fused with recently discovered eastern traditions such as Hindu and Buddhist Tantra His study gives remarkable new insight into sexuality in the modern era specifically on issues such as the politics of birth control the classification of sexual deviance debates over homosexuality and feminism and the role of sexuality in our own new world of post modern spirituality consumer capitalism and the Internet
The Power of Tantra: Religion, Sexuality and the Politics of South Asian Studies
In the West the varied body of texts and traditions known as Tantra for more than two centuries has had the capacity to scandalise and shock For European colonisers Orientalist scholars and Christian missionaries of the Victorian era Tantra was generally seen as the most degenerate and depraved example of the worst tendencies of the so called Indian mind a pathological mixture of sensuality and religion that prompted the decline of modern Hinduism Yet for most contemporary New Age and popular writers Tantra is celebrated as a much needed affirmation of physical pleasure and sex indeed as a cult of ecstasy to counter the perceived hypocritical prudery of many Westerners In recent years Tantra has become the focus of a still larger cultural and political debate In the eyes of many Hindus much of the western literature on Tantra represents a form of neo colonialism which continues to portray India as an exotic erotic hyper sexualised Orient Which then is the real Tantra Focusing on one of the oldest and most important Tantric traditions based in Assam northeast India Hugh B Urban shows that Tantra is less about optimal sexual pleasure than about harnessing the divine power of the goddess that flows alike through the cosmos the human body and political society In a fresh and vital contribution to the field the author suggests that the real meaning of Tantra lies in helping us rethink not just the history of Indian religions but also our own modern obsessions with power sex and the invidious legacies of cultural imperialism The Power of Tantra is a major scholarly treatment of a much misconstrued esoteric tradition and a well written and illustrated guide to a dimension of Hinduism that deserves the careful research Hugh B Urban has given it An impressive achievement Paul B Courtright Professor of Religion and Asian Studies Emory University
New Age, Neopagan, and New Religious Movements: Alternative Spirituality in Contemporary America
New Age Neopagan and New Religious Movements is the most extensive study to date of modern American alternative spiritual currents Hugh B Urban covers a range of emerging religions from the mid nineteenth century to the present including the Nation of Islam Mormonism Scientology ISKCON Wicca the Church of Satan Peoples Temple and the Branch Davidians This essential text engages students by addressing major theoretical and methodological issues in the study of new religions and is organized to guide students in their learning Each chapter focuses on one important issue involving a particular faith group providing readers with examples that illustrate larger issues in the study of religion and American culture Urban addresses such questions as Why has there been such a tremendous proliferation of new spiritual forms in the past 150 years even as our society has become increasingly rational scientific technological and secular Why has the United States become the heartland for the explosion of new religious movements How do we deal with complex legal debates such as the use of peyote by the Native American Church or the practice of plural marriage by some Mormon communities And how do we navigate issues of religious freedom and privacy in an age of religious violence terrorism and government surveillance